HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - It is going to be quite a year at the “old pea patch,” and we are just a week-and-a-half away from the start of the Ellis Park summer meet.
The track is set to offer the highest average daily purses in its 97-year history, $330,000 a day. All that money has attracted some of the top owners, trainers, and jockeys, in the racing industry to descend on Ellis, which should make for an historic season.
“You’re gonna see a lotta nice horses," says Madisonville horse owner Chester Thomas. "The competition here is gonna be really good this year. It’s gonna be tough to win. It’s nice to see some of the top trainers gonna be here.”
“The way the money’s gonna be here, it’s gonna attract a lot better horses," explains Jockey, Corey Lanerie. "Last year, we had the oaks winner come outta here and Hog Creek Hustle, who I won a Grade-1 on at Belmont last weekend. It’s exciting to be here to get on the young horses to try to find some good ones.”
“Kentucky competes with anyone," says Henderson horse owner, Larry Jones. "Pretty well, blows anyone else outta the water. We’re better than New York right now, Cali can’t touch us. Kentucky, it’s the place to be.”
The purse increase, plus the quality of barns, have attracted some of the top jockeys, in the racing industry. New to the jockey colony this season will be two-time eclipse award winner, Florent Geroux, California Mainstay, Tyler Baze, Oaklawn Park Regular, David Cohen, and Chantal Sutherland, who starred at Woodbine and Santa Anita.
“People had talked about Ellis and my agent Rocco had said so many good things about it,” explained Sutherland. “And a lot of trainers like coming here. It’s got that fun relaxed vibe and then a lot of trainers said that’s where I’d do well, so I hope they’re right.”
“Everybody comes for the money; you put the money up and it’s gonna attract the big names so it’s gonna be competitive, but I’m lookin’ forward to it,” Lanerie says. “When you get in the gates and look, you’re gonna have to pinch yourself, you’re probably gonna think you’re still at Churchill, cause I think most of the colony from there, is gonna Just move their tack to Ellis Park.”
Racing begins, Sunday, June 30, with post time set for 12:50 p.m.